How to Hack Your Next Trip Abroad Using the Sharing Economy

At its core, the sharing economy is about a person monetizing something they have with others, whether it be a skill, product, expertise or service.

For travellers, the sharing economy has revolutionized the way people travel, opening up uniquely localized experiences. For others, it's a way to stretch hard-earned dollars a little further, travelling on the thrift.

Here are a few of the best sharing economy websites out there to help you hack your next adventure.

Just think of the extraordinary places you'll go and the people you'll meet! 



Airbnb and VRBO

The Joshua Tree

Airbnb and VRBO help you bypass boring, overpriced hotel rooms for more inclusive accommodations at your destination of choice.

Pick and choose from the houses, apartments, Airstreams, hogans, tree houses, cabins, yurts, and even boats of locals, living in the neighbourhoods you actually want to be in.

The apps show you pictures, guest reviews, availability calendars, amenities, and pricing for different dates. From there, you book your stay, have a quick email chat with the host and arrange the remaining details.

Tip: Don't forget you're staying in someone's home, not a hotel. Good guests are respectful of host rules and leave the space as they would if they were staying at a friend's house. If you want a good review, take out the garbage, strip the bed and tidy up.



Uber and Lyft

car uber man reading newspaperUber | © 2004 Glen Wexler Studio

Sick of paying up to $5 just to enter a cab? Hate not knowing if the driver is taking a scenic route to increase your fare?

Uber and Lyft have permanently disrupted the taxi industry by allowing regular folks to become paid drivers using their personal vehicles. 

Available across the globe, these two apps are extremely simple to use: pick your start and end locations, the class of car you would like to travel in, and then enjoy the ride.

The apps will predict your fare before you book and show you and your driver a map of the best route possible. With a set price, there's no incentive for the driver to take you the long way. Plus, you can pay automatically with your credit card, so no more cash payments or awkward tipping decisions.

Tip: Don't keep your driver waiting upon arrival. Practice good etiquette: greet your driver, and don't eat or act belligerently. 


Rent sports gear:


bike city rental travel casual dress womanAlisa Anton

Seeing all that a city has to offer by bike is an amazing experience; travelling with a bike however, is not.

Enter Spinlister, a service that allows you to rent a bicycle from a local for any period of time you choose. They also offer stand up paddleboards, skis and snowboards, but the availability of these items will depend on your proximity to a body of water or ski hills.

Tip: Return gear as you found it, clean and complete. If something breaks, be upfront about it. If it's not your fault, your host should understand. Otherwise, offer up a fix. 


Boat rentals and charters:

Get My Boat

sail boat aerial view tropicalF S

Whether fishing, swimming, sailing, cruising or commuting, being on the water is a great travel experience. Get My Boat wants you to experience that joy. This global service connects tourists with local boat owners. Choose from a basic fishing boat all the way up to luxury yacht - if you desire. Chartered excursions are available. 

Pricing will vary based on location and the vessel chosen, but they may offer a break from the exorbitant fees marinas and rental companies will charge you.



Meal Sharing, EatWith & Withlocals

Dinner partyDave Lastovskiy

Meal Sharing, EatWith and Withlocals are three food apps out to change the way travellers dine while abroad.

They help create a truly local culinary experience by inviting travellers into the homes of residents for meals throughout the day. This new dining experience is just gaining popularity with travellers so options are still fairly limited. You can expect a fairly priced meal, good conversation and a local perspective on the destination you are travelling to.  

Tip: Don't expect that all hosts can accommodate your unique dietary restrictions. If you're unsure, inquire before booking. 


Hire a personal guide:

GuideAdvisor, Airbnb Experiences, Padhaaro & Vayable

airbnb experiencesAirbnb

Worried about too much of a commercial experience when taking in a guided tour of a city? Would you rather leave the large groups behind and have a more intimate learning experience?

GuideAdvisor, Airbnb ExperiencesPadhaaro (India) and Vayable allow you to book a local guide who will show you around and give you information that only a local can.

These websites offer users a complete itinerary (usually a half or full-day excursion), a profile of the guide/host, and reviews from real travellers. 


Hire a freelance photographer:

Flytographer and Localgrapher

local photographer hire india jaipur

Whether you are a couple who is tired of sub-par photos taken by a bystander, a family hoping to capture amazing memories or a solo traveler who wants more than what a selfie stick can provide, Flytographer and Localgrapher can help you out by matching you with a local photographer. (These sites are also popular with boyfriends looking to capture a romantic proposal abroad.)

Search within a destination, browse photographer portfolios for a style you like, and the app will handle the rest to get you an amazing photoshoot.

Prices are set by shoot duration and payment is handled by the app. Based on your photo package, you will receive a set number of edited image files. 


Board your pet with a family:

DogVacay and Rover

dog cuddle pug people lounge relaxPexels

Worried about your fur babies while travelling? Instead of sending them off to a kennel or boarding house, send them to a home with a family who genuinely loves animals.

Search and choose the family that your ball of fluff will stay with, then enjoy the peace of mind that your pet is well cared for. DogVacay and Rover are two such options. 


Tips for using the sharing economy while travelling:

  • Download apps before you go. You don't want to be using extra data on the fly or missing messages from hosts/guides. 
  • Signing up for these sites is often free and if it's not, you can usually find a free membership code on the Internet. 
  • Personal safety: don't forget that you are entering the private vehicles and spaces of what are effectively strangers. If something feels "off", listen to your gut. 
  • Guides for hire might not have liability insurance to cover guests. Always travel with adequate travel medical insurance. 


Do you hack the sharing
economy when you travel? 

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